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Yorwaste fined £20,000 for breaching leachate limit

Yorwaste has been fined £20,000 for breaching its Skibden Quarry landfill permit, near Skipton, after leachate levels were found to be more than 12 times the authorised limit.

The waste management company was also ordered to pay costs of £2,500 to the Environment Agency (EA) and pay a £15 victim surcharge.

When EA officers carried out a routine inspection of the landfill in August 2008, they found pools of water, which, in one area, had landfill gas bubbling through it. Site staff admitted that the leachate levels had been even higher on the previous day at a depth of 7.8 metres. The landfill permit only allowed it to have a one metre leachate depth.

Yorwaste managed to reduce leachate to the permitted depth in November that year, following an EA notice.

But three further breaches the following year – the biggest leachate depth at 12.5 metres – had been recorded and reported to the EA, despite the company spending £300,000 on leachate control in 2009

Yorwaste entered an early guilty plea and the leachate did not cause environmental harm.

EA environment officer John Crowl said: “Leachate levels are a crucial part of the management of a landfill site. The greater the leachate levels, the higher the potential for pollution to seep out of the bottom of the landfill.

“We’re pleased the court has recognised that the breaches of the leachate levels were serious.”

In interview, Yorwaste accepted that leachate levels were higher than they should have been. Permitted leachate levels were revised to three metres on 20th August 2010 in a new permit after Yorwaste submitted a revised application. 

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